by Daniel Fappiano
After jumping out to a 5-3 Northeast Conference record, Central Connecticut State University’s men’s basketball has struggled, dropping their past five contests and slipping to 5-8. Their latest two losses have come at the hands of Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart, who defeated the Blue Devils by a combined 31 points.
Central started off strong against the Mountaineers, holding a five-point halftime lead. However, the Blue Devils weren’t able to continue their momentum and were outscored 44-25 after the break, losing the game 71-57.
For CCSU, Tyler Kohl led the way with 24 points and nine rebounds while Tyson Batiste had a team-high four assists. Kohl’s performance marked the sixth game in a row in which the junior had at least 20 points.
As for the Seahawks, senior Junior Robinson led his team with 32 points and five assists while Chris Wray held his own with eight rebounds. The 71 points are the highest total Mount St. Mary’s has scored in their past three games.
Most of Central’s issues came in the second half as they shot just 30 percent from the field compared to the Mountaineers’ 56 percent. They were not able to stop Robinson who was able to create shots from all over the court. He scored 18 of his 32 points after the half.
Central did win the rebound battle 33-25. However, they had a poor 18-10 assist to turnover ratio.
Following the game, head coach Donyell Marshall expressed his frustrations with the team.
“Right now some guys aren’t accepting coaching. I think some guys want the season to be over. It’s mind-boggling, you have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done here in four years in making the NEC tournament,” Marshall said. “It’s mind boggling that some people have already checked out. We’re going to try our hardest to try and get them to stay in it and fight, but it’s up to them. Until they continue to believe in us as a coaching staff and stop fighting us, we’re going to continue to struggle.”
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, their woes continued as they took on the Pioneers of Sacred Heart. Unlike the Mount St. Mary’s match-up, Sacred Heart led for most of the game while Central was ahead for just 3:04; overall SHU defeated CCSU 67-50.
Kohl again led the team in scoring and rebounding with 19 and eight, respectively, while Austin Nehls dished out three assists. 50 is the lowest amount of points Central has scored all season.
For Sacred Heart, Sean Hoehn led his team with 22 points while Joseph Lopez and Mario Matasovic led the team in rebounds and assists with eight and four, respectively. Overall, the Pioneers shot 8-19 from behind the arc.
While SHU shined with the three-ball, CCSU struggled, hitting just 2-21 from deep. Central was also out-rebounded 36-29 and struggled in the turnover department, coughing it up 11 times compared to their seven assists.
Marshall, again, was frustrated with his team’s inability to work together.
“We got guys who unfortunately are not playing for each other right now. They’re playing for stats,” Marshall said. “Guys arguing in timeouts, arguing with each other, right now we can’t take coaching, we can’t take criticism from our own teammates and right now the individualism we have is frightening.”
With just four games left in the regular season, the Blue Devils are in must-win territory as they look to enter the NEC tournament. They’ll look to get back on track on Thursday at St. Francis (PA).